This is a guest post by Rommel John, who writes anything about the law for Baily & Partners located in Santa Monica, California.
In nursing homes, it’s all-too-common for residents to be given off-label antipsychotic medications in order to sedate them or calm them down when they’re agitated. People with dementia are particularly vulnerable to this form of abuse; they’re the most frequent recipients of the drugs, as nursing home staff try to make them quieter and easier to manage.
These meds are only meant for certain psychiatric conditions, as approved by the FDA. What may happen when nursing home staff administer the drugs in an unauthorized way to nursing home residents?
- Premature death
- Harsh respiratory infections
- Bodily injuries resulting from confusion and discombobulating
- A diminished ability to engage with the world, including with anxious loved ones who are visiting
- A loss of any independence
The abuse of these drugs, which are not intended to be used for sedating or restraining people, is so prevalent that it affects hundreds of thousands of residents in nursing homes. It’s also caught the attention of government officials and consumer watchdog groups. Programs such as Medicare, for example, lose hundreds of millions of dollars every year as a result of complications from off-label drug use in nursing homes. Unfortunately, while the government sees that there’s a problem and has issued investigations into nursing homes, budget cuts threaten the possibility of sufficient future actions against nursing homes that adopt this horrible practice.
If you or a loved one have suffered from this kind of nursing home abuse, you should consult with a personal injury lawyer on what steps to take to seek justice and receive fair compensation in the aftermath. The effects of off-label antipsychotics are potentially deadly or debilitating. Furthermore, by administering these medications, nursing home staff don’t only violate government regulations, they also violate the rights of nursing home residents; they give the drugs to residents without consent and without a proper disclosure of the risks. This is an outrage that needs to be stopped before it ruins more lives.